Gardening is a Natural Beginning to a Healthier Living.
Gardening is a Natural Beginning to a Healthier Living.
So, your summer and fall garden crops are coming to a close and you have harvested all you can before your winter frosts set in. Now what?
Now, you prep your garden for the winter and protect those plants that will remain in the ground through the winter season.
I have collected some steps below to help you protect the garden you worked so hard for.
So, you know you need to start thinking about prepping your garden for winter, but you have put it on the back burner until one morning...you wake up to a frozen patch of garden plants! dang!! Yep, that is what happened to me and then I QUICKLY educated myself in what to do to prep the garden BEFORE that winter frost kicks my hiney. So, let me share my knowledge and experience with you.
First thing you do above all else is look up your first frost date in your area. This link will help you locate your frost dates. Then, MARK IT ON YOUR CALENDAR so you don't forget. Old Farmer's Almanac Frost Dates
Now let's look into the various ways you can protect your in-ground plants and your garden beds for the winter. Manure ~ Compost ~ Dried Leaves ~ Grass Clippings ~ Wood Chips (Let's check out these options below.)
Manure is one of the greatest assets to a garden and adds a lot more than crop nutrients to your soil. There are many benefits from manure that you can’t get from other fertilizers. Manure is an organic matter that enhances the physical properties of the soil structure. The manure lightens the texture of the soil, enhancing the ability of the soil to hold on to nutrients and make them more effective, than if you were just applying fertilizer.
Manure applications leave the microbials in the soil more active, which improves soil quality. The extra organic matter also helps soil hold onto water a little better.
When applying manure, it is important to understand the WAIT time (aging) for each type of manure before you plant anything in it. Knowing this information will also help you decide which one to add to your garden over the winter. Make sure to till or turn your manure into your soil, or at least cover the manure, so that the ammonia nutrients are not lost into the atmosphere by sitting on top of the soil over the winter uncovered or not blended with the soil.
**Disclaimer ~ I have read many articles on the length of time to wait for your manure to age properly and decompose for safe gardening and have encountered many different time lines. From 45 days to 1 year, depending on the type of manure.
The best thing to do is place your fresh manure in a separate bin and let it decompose down to a dark crumbly substance that smells and looks like soil. This is the BEST way to make sure you are applying safe manure in your garden.
When your manure has decomposed safely, THEN add it to your fall garden and work it into the soil. At this point, you can add your garlic, onions, or any other crop that you want to grow in the ground over winter. But, adding fresh manure to the ground is absolutely NOT safe to plant into and you could potentially lose your crop because the heat from the manure, while it is composting down, will burn your plants.
Which manure is better to use in your garden, you ask?
Dried poultry manure is 2-3 times as rich as cow manure in organic content. Poultry droppings are better manure than cow dung (or other farmyard manure) in nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, which are the elements most deficient in the soil.
Mulch is what you apply to your established plants that will be staying in the ground through the winter. (Artichokes, Chives, Rhubarb, Oregano, Asparagus, etc.)
Mulching is the process of applying a layer of material over the soil to the base of your plants to protect their crowns or roots from the frosty nights of winter.
If you do not plan to uproot your plants from the garden and store them in a garage or green house, etc., then you will need to cover them for the winter with some sort of mulch.
Applying mulch to your yard, flower garden, or as a winter covering will conserve soil moisture, improve fertility and health of the soil, reduce weed growth and enhance the visual appeal of the area.
Mulch is typically, but not exclusively, an organic material. Some examples of mulch are wood chips, dried leaves, some types of bark, straw, hay, chipped brush, freshly-cut healthy plant stems and leaves, or cover crops.
I added aged compost to the soil, then worked it all in together. Planted my garlic cloves in the soil and then covered the bed with a heavy layer (about 2 inches thick) of shredded dry bark. The bark will protect the new garlic baby cloves until Spring when they will start to grow through the bark.
I have left the healthy green leaves on the plants, cut back all the dried stems, cut off all the dead and broken leaves and added a thick layer of dried tree leaves to the base for the winter to protect the crowns. The new leaves may die back through winter but they will return in the spring.
I have cut back all the growth on the chive plant down to about 2 inches from the ground. I placed a layer of dried tree leaves over the top for winter protection. In spring, I will take off the leaves and let them grow naturally for the next season.
I have pulled off all the dead leaves so only the crown is left. I have added a heavy layer of dried tree leaves to cover the crowns for the winter. I will uncover the crowns in early Spring to let the rhubarb grow again naturally.
This is one way to save your pepper plants through the winter if you do not want to compost them. Just cut them back to what you see in the image above, uproot them and place in a pot and move them indoors for the winter. Instructions on how to cut back your pepper plants for winter storage.
I did the same process with my tomato plants and eggplants for the winter. Just cut them back to what you see in the image above, uproot them and place in a pot and move them indoors for the winter.
Natural Beginnings Garden
2217 Sirkka Street ~ Centralia, Washington
Copyright © 2020 Natural Beginnings Garden - All Rights Reserved
Powered by GoDaddy Website Builder